The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution

The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution

by Micah White


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Is protest broken? Micah White, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, thinks so. Disruptive tactics have failed to halt the rise of Donald Trump. Movements ranging from Black Lives Matter to environmentalism are leaving activists frustrated. Meanwhile, recent years have witnessed the largest protests in human history. Yet these mass mobilizations no longer change society. Now activism is at a crossroads: innovation or irrelevance.
In The End of Protest Micah White heralds the future of activism. Drawing on his unique experience with Occupy Wall Street, a contagious protest that spread to eighty-two countries, White articulates a unified theory of revolution and eight principles of tactical innovation that are destined to catalyze the next generation of social movements. 
Despite global challenges—catastrophic climate change, economic collapse and the decline of democracy—White finds reason for optimism: the end of protest inaugurates a new era of social change. On the horizon are increasingly sophisticated movements that will emerge in a bid to challenge elections, govern cities and reorient the way we live. Activists will reshape society by forming a global political party capable of winning elections worldwide. 
In this provocative playbook, White offers three bold, revolutionary scenarios for harnessing the creativity of people from across the political spectrum. He also shows how social movements are created and how they spread, how materialism limits contemporary activism, and why we must re-conceive protest in timelines of centuries, not days.
Rigorous, original and compelling, The End of Protest is an exhilarating vision of an all-encompassing revolution of revolution.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345810045
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 531,203
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

MICAH WHITE is the award-winning activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, a global social movement, while an editor of Adbusters magazine. His essays and interviews on the future of protest have been published in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian Weekly and Folha de São Paulo. Widely recognized as a pioneer of social movement creation, Micah White has been profiled by The New Yorker, and Esquire has named him one of the most influential young thinkers alive today. He directs Boutique Activist Consultancy—a think tank specializing in impossible campaigns—and is a frequent guest lecturer. Micah lives with his wife and son in Nehalem, a rural town on the coast of Oregon. His website is

Read an Excerpt

You are needed

You may long for the protest to end all protests, a final revolution that eradicates injustice and transforms society. You dream of a better world in which protest is no longer necessary. You wish to make protest effective so that the ideals you hold become manifest. For you the end of protest is a consummation of activism, the completion of your work and objective of your struggle. You understand that the end of protest is in itself revolution.
This book will offer you tools for hastening social transformation. Recognizing that protest is one tool among many for creating social change, grab what works and discard the rest.
And if you are threatened by revolution, fearing or disdaining movements like Occupy, and you’ve come to this book from a desire to end protest—to foreclose dissent—know that this book is for you, too. Uprisings always need people who convert to the cause from positions of power: police who switch sides, insiders who become whistleblowers, and politicians who heed the people’s demands. You may oppose us today but you will join us tomorrow. Our movement is even stronger when it includes the converted, who understand the errors of the old world because they embodied them.
You may be skeptical of those who take to the streets, considering them reckless. They seem to have nothing to lose, and you have worked so hard to achieve your position, wealth and prestige. You may not sympathize with their anger. You may believe that good society ought to have few disruptions. True, many aspects of upheaval are unpleasant. Revolutions are sometimes violent and always have unintended consequences. “In a society such as ours,” writes Herbert Marcuse, a leading twentieth-century social theorist and philosopher, “in which pacification has been achieved up to a certain point, it appears crazy at first to want revolution. For we have whatever we want.” He continues with a prescription: “[T]he aim here is to transform the will itself, so that people no longer want what they now want.”3 You desire the end of protest, but the fulfilment of your desire would be disastrous for you.
The lack of protest is perilous for society. Protest is a symptom of the need for social change, and the people in the streets are harbingers of greater democracy. The absence of effective protest is a warning sign of impending civil strife. Whether you support or suppress protesters, history shows that dissent is necessary for social growth and collective renewal. Revolution grants us the social freedom essential for humans to break old habits and reach their true collective potential.

Table of Contents

Preface 1

A wild wish

951 Occupations, eighty-two countries

Political miracle

Normalcy returns

Edward Snowden on Occupy

Police counter-tactics

Outdated rituals

Protest is broken

Let's fix activism

Introduction: You Are Needed 5

The protest to end all protests

A tool for social transformation

For those who fear revolution

You are needed

Dissent is productive

Part 1 Today

1 The Birth of Occupy 9

Setting the stage

Largest protests in history

Mohamed Bouazizi

Arab Spring

Tahrir Square

Acampadas in Spain

Carnivalesque Rebellion

Student occupations


Tactical briefing

Bring tent

The first tweet



Beautiful event

Two flukes

2 A Constructive Failure 24

Innovative tactics

Unquestioned assumptions

False theory of change

Failure is a springboard

3 The Lost Moment 29

Winter is coming

Mood shifting

Death, disease, drugs

Paramilitary raid

Zuccotti is lost

Coordinated evictions

Occupiers plea with the president

The end

4 The End of Protest 34

The end is a new beginning

Nearly perfect movement

Police repression

Governments ignore protests

Colour revolutions

Democracy negated

Occupy tested all our hypotheses

Reinventing activism

Paradigm shift

No more marches

Stop repeating tactics

The future of social change


5 I Am An Activist 44

My early protests

Pledge of allegiance

Underground newspaper

Atheist club

Drug testing

Snake march

Electronic civil disobedience

Commitment to experimentation

6 The Point of Protest 52

Social technique of collective liberation

Rudolf Eucken on aktivismus

Why activism?

Productive role of protest

The history of democracy is the history of revolution

The four human wishes

What is revolution?

Obey just laws; disobey unjust laws

What is protest?

Collective ritual

The spectrum of protest

Collective behaviour paradigm

A conscious strategy

Breaking the script of protest

Vectors of transmission

Willing historical moment

7 A Unified Theory of Revolution 69

Parable of the three pigeons

The axes of revolution

A unified theory is not an eternal theory

Two layers of reality

Kairos and chronos

The four theories


On direct action, violence and performance


Revolutions are not made

The impact of food prices

Fooled by randomness

The upside


Change your mind; change the world

Emotional contagion


Divine intervention

We need mystery

Ascension of an activist

Part 2 Yesterday

8 The Recent Past of Protest 107

Wake up!

The Dialogue of Ipuwer

Protest is war by other means

Tactical arms race

People's Party

Syriza, Podemos and the Five Star Movement


Inventing a new tactic


Horizontalism and leaderlessness

Global Morch

February 15, 2003

Human Shield

Inside the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine

9 The Distant Past of Protest 142

An eternal force

Ghost Dance

The prophecy of Wovoko

Wounded Knee massacre


Nika Revolt unites Blue and Green


Conversion of Constantine

Chi Rho and the cross in the sky


Arminius and the greatest protest in history

Part 3 Tomorrow

10 Mental Environmentalism 167

Brainwashed at the laundromat

Commercial propaganda

Our double-bind

Advertising captures the Internet

Naming calls into being

Spirit and creativity


The catastrophe has already happened

Universal struggle

The differend

Silent Spring

A fable for tomorrow


11 The Future of Protest 183

A breakthrough in warfare

Sargon of Akkad

Real-time tactical innovation


Fast future

Time niches

Ultrafast extreme events

Temporal arbitrage

Slow future

Three-generation perspective

Deep time

Slow memes, complex behaviours

12 Three Scenarios for the Next Revolutionary Moment 192

Always a surprise

Rural revolt


Digital populism


Sovereignty and self-governance

World Party



Winning elections worldwide

Unity, Liberty, Mutual Aid

Protest bot

Automating social movement creation

Super-intelligent machines

Computer-assisted revolution

13 We Innovate, We Win 207

How the weak win wars


Try, fail, try again

Odds of revolution

Overcoming fear

Risk of ruin

Moral and ethical dilemmas



Civil war

Magical thinking

Political and social revolution

Decisive accidents

Heroism, not coercion

Meme war


Metrics are lying

14 Eight Principles of Revolution 220

Twenty-eight days



Death blow






15 Political Miracle 241

Activism at a crossroads

Spiritual insurrection


Our power

Lesson of Kronstadt

Rebirth of history



Social mobilization

Conquer the world

Beware of front groups

Dark side of protest

Open vs. closed movements

Sybil attack

St. Paul's advice

CIA on campus

State secrets

Purpose of front groups

Signs you've been recruited

Follow your heart

16 Prophecy of Protest 254

Glad tidings

Good times

Humanity is evolving

Come as you are

Multi-generational struggle

Necessity of rebirth

Revolution through revelation

Global sovereignty

Spiritual revolution, political revolution, social revolution

Final word to the ones to come

Acknowledgements 263

Reading List 265

Image Credits 277

Endnotes 278

Index 292

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